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National Express takeover proving problematic for Cosmen family

The Cosmen family has experienced a further setback today in its attempt to acquire National Express, the distressed UK transport group, as the company's other main shareholders have indicated they will not back its bid.
 
The Spain-based family, which is bidding in conjunction with private equity group CVC, made a 450p-per-share cash offer yesterday. However, Schroders, National Express's sixth largest shareholder, said publicly it would rather back the management than a private equity bid. According to British media reports, other shareholders are also unhappy with the proposed cash takeover due to the price and conditions the deal is subject to.
 
Jorge Cosmen (pictured) is National Express's largest shareholder and first launched a takeover bid in July. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)The original offer was 29% lower than the one proposed yesterday and deemed to low for the transport group.
 
National Express then announced in early August it was considering a £350 million rights issue that would allow the company to remain independent, another setback for the proposed takeover. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)
 
The company is currently considering the CVC/Cosmen family offer and is expected to announce over the coming days if it will accept the deal.
 
The Cosmen family first became involved with the transport group in 2005 when National Express purchased the Cosmen family coach business, Alsa. As part of that deal the Cosmen's gained a 10% stake in National Express and have since increased its holdings to 18.5% of the business. Jorge Cosmen has become deputy chairman of National Express, while he remains chairman of Alsa.
 
National Express recorded revenues of £2.7 billion in 2008 but the company has been struggling under the weight of its debts after making cash acquisitions of both Alsa and another Spanish coach operator Continental Auto.

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